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Beloved NHL locker room attendant who had Down syndrome passes away at 57

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and numerous others are remembering Joey Moss, who was a vibrant presence for 36 years as an employee of the Edmonton Oilers.
/ Source: TODAY

A great one is being remembered by the Great One.

Joey Moss, a locker room attendant for the NHL's Edmonton Oilers who got the job on a recommendation from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, died at 57 on Monday, according to the team. Moss, who was born with Down syndrome, had been a beloved presence with the team for 36 years.

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Gretzky, who bonded with Moss as he became an all-time great with the Oilers in the 1980s, remembered his friend on Monday.

Longtime dressing room attendant Joey Moss, shown with Edmonton Oiler greats Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, has died at 57. Codie McLachlan / Getty Images

"On behalf of all the players who had the honor to get to know him, we are so saddened to hear the news of Joey's passing," Gretzky said in a statement released by the Oilers. "We were all lucky enough to be part of his life for a lot of years. His love for life always brought a smile to anyone who met him. Whether it was a coffee before practice or a big hug after a great win or a tough loss, he would put life in perspective. He will be missed but not forgotten. Once an Oiler, always an Oiler. RIP, Joe."

Moss joined the team in the 1984-85 season and was part of four Stanley Cup championships by the Oilers. His upbeat attitude and loud renditions of the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada," before games made him a beloved part of the team's fabric.

Joey Moss sang the Canadian national anthem prior to a Western Conference playoff game in 2017 between the Oilers and the San Jose Sharks. Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images

In addition to Gretzky, several other current and former Oilers players mourned his loss.

"With the greatest of all-time... and #99," current Oilers center Connor McDavid tweeted with a photo of Gretzky and Moss. "Oil Country sure won’t be the same without you, Joey. Thanks for always brightening up any day and may you rest easy my friend."

"Heavy heart today," McDavid's teammate, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, tweeted. "Had the pleasure of calling you my friend for nine years. Edmonton won’t be the same without you. Love ya Joey. Rest In Peace."

"RIP Joey," former Oiler Milan Lucic tweeted. "One of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to be around in hockey."

"There was nothing better than coming off the ice after a huge win to a Joey Moss high five on the bench," former Oiler Cam Talbot tweeted. "His energy and passion for the game were infectious and made you want to come to the rink everyday. He truly was a legend and will be greatly missed. #RIPJoeyMoss #Legend"

Former Oilers player, coach and general manager Kevin Lowe told the team will be preparing a tribute to Moss in the coming weeks.

Moss became known for the type of infectious enthusiasm he showed here before an Oilers game in 2016. Codie McLachlan / Getty Images

"As the years went on, we realized the outpouring of respect that he had from people and particularly in the Down syndrome world, people recognized him and so many people would stop us on the streets and sent cards and letters saying what Joey had represented to their family, that they had a member with Down syndrome and it meant so much," Lowe said Tuesday. "As time rolled along, we realized Joey was a bigger piece of the overall puzzle in terms of what's going on in the world, not just in our own little world."

Moss was so well known that he was even celebrated by players from opposing teams, particularly Canadian players who knew him as a legend who was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

"When you think of the Edmonton Oilers... names like Gretzky, Messier, Coffey and McDavid come to mind. Joey Moss is right there with them," Columbus Blue Jackets player Max Domi tweeted. "He is a Canadian legend and a true inspiration to all of us. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest In Peace Joey."

It's been an emotional year for the Oilers, who also endured the death of 25-year-old forward Colby Cave from a brain bleed in April. He died after being placed into a medically induced coma and undergoing emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.